Roa, strong offense lead Dragons past Fort Wayne

Dragons center fielder Michael Siani celebrates his lead-off homer with manager Jose Moreno in the first inning Tuesday night at Day Air Ballpark. Siani has six homers this season. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED
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Dragons center fielder Michael Siani celebrates his lead-off homer with manager Jose Moreno in the first inning Tuesday night at Day Air Ballpark. Siani has six homers this season. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

Christian Roa excelled at throwing baseballs and catching footballs at Houston Memorial High School. He was second-team all-district as a pitcher and first-team all-district as a wide receiver in 6A, the biggest classification in Texas.

But Roa let colleges know early on that football was just another sport to play. Baseball was his passion.

“There’s no week to week the same, you play different teams in different situations,” he said. “You can do everything right and still get punished or you can do everything wrong and still get rewarded. It’s a fun game, it’s a humbling game.”

Roa went to Texas A&M to pitch, and he emerged as their No. 2 starter. He left football and the 12th Man tradition to other Aggies to pursue.

“I just felt like I could play at a bigger school, I could get a better education from it,” he said. “And just from a young age it’s what I’ve always done and what I’ve loved to do.”

The Reds selected Roa in the second round of the 2020 draft and he is rated high as the Reds’ No. 14 prospect. He debuted with the Dayton Dragons on Aug. 10. Roa pitched well for the third straight time Tuesday night to lead the Dragons to a 10-2 victory over Fort Wayne at Day Air Ballpark.

Roa (2-2) pitched five scoreless innings and allowed five hits, walked three and struck out two. He made an art of getting out of jams, leaving runners stranded at third base four times. One was after a leadoff triple and two times double plays ended the inning.

“It’s just executing pitches and getting ahead in those scenarios,” Roa said. “Eric Yang did a really good job behind the plate calling pitches and getting us out of those situations. He had a good game plan, and we attacked in those situations. And there’s some luck in it too.”

Roa has a 3.86 ERA in seven starts in Dayton, rebounding from a stretch of three subpar outings.

“At the beginning he had some problems getting that out pitch, but lately he’s been making the pitch when it counts,” Dragons manager Jose Moreno said. “He’s been able to compete and get four or five innings and doing a really good job lately.”

Roa was granted an early lead when Michael Siani led off the first inning with his sixth home run and Allan Cerda led of the second with his third home run. The Dragons added runs in the second on a single by Jacob Hurtubise and a sacrifice fly by Matt McLain for a 4-0 lead.

The Dragons added five runs in the third with the help of five walks in a stretch of six batters. With two outs, Hurtubise and Siani walked with the bases loaded and McLain ripped a three-run double into the right-field corner for a 9-0 lead.

The TinCaps (54-61) got to reliever Ricky Karcher for two runs in the ninth before Vin Timpanelli entered to get a strikeout and a fly out to end the game.

Playoff race: The Dragons (60-55) kept their faint playoff hopes alive in the race for the second and final spot with five games left. Cedar Rapids (63-52) lost Tuesday and leads the Dragons by three games. The Dragons also trail Great Lakes (62-53) and Lake County (62-53) by two games.